I was one of the lucky ones, I ordered my Peloton during the pandemic and received it within a week. But that’s because I ordered it before everything went into total lockdown. I know now people are waiting for months to get theirs. Hang in there, it will be worth the wait. I finished my 25th ride the other day and wanted to share a Peloton update, which could also be titled, “I get the Peloton hype.”
I’m not one to succumb to hype. I am skeptical and as a blogger, I have the ability to often see behind the curtain of hype and realize it’s a bunch of bunk. I didn’t get a Peloton because I wanted to be cool or part of some “bigger thing” or be part of the “family.” I got it because I didn’t want to lose what I had gained from two years of weight training with a personal trainer and I knew it was a piece of equipment that me, my husband, and our kid could all use. The only equipment I bought was a pair of shoes, and I didn’t even buy the Peloton ones (I got these on Zappos and switched out the Peloton pedals for SPD ones and use SPD cleats). I rode, not thinking this would be my “thing” but thinking it would be good exercise that isn’t too noisy and doesn’t take up too much space in my home.
The first two weeks, I switched up instructors, going by what friends and those who follow Wardrobe Oxygen suggested. I stuck to classes that were no more than 30 minutes in length, labeled Beginner or Advanced Beginner, figuring that was my pace since I hadn’t been on a bicycle (other than my fixed-gear adult tricycle) for a decade and never attended a spin class. It was good. I didn’t hate it, I kind of enjoyed it. Some teachers had better playlists, some were too peppy or too chatty for my taste, but in general, I liked it. Only one class did I exit out of five minutes into it, knowing 30 minutes with that instructor would drive me batty.
My husband immediately fell in love with the Peloton, and since we got it I think he’s only missed three days of riding. He quickly found a favorite instructor and chooses to use the subtitles and listen to his own music. I couldn’t relate; while I didn’t mind the Peloton it was like working out at the gym – I went because I paid for it not because I looked forward to it. While I felt better after, it wasn’t enough to get me hyped for my next session.
My husband said he preferred the longer classes, 45 minutes gave him enough time to get into a zone. One evening feeling unproductive, unmotivated, and all-around over being cooped up inside I decided to take a 45-minute ride. If I couldn’t hang, I’d exit out and delete it from my profile. My husband suggested I try Jenn Sherman. He described her as, “I swear she’s at school pickup each afternoon.” As soon as I started the class I knew what she meant. Jenn Sherman feels as though she's someone we went to high school with. She was the girl who was hella smart, but also a little bit trouble. She was the friend I felt daring with, but also felt safe enough with to do those daring things. I started a 45-minute class with her not liking the playlist, but about 20 minutes in I was pant singing along and having conversations with Jenn and it was like each time I slumped she told me to check my posture, each time I was clinging to the bar for dear life she told me to relax my hands. I rode most of that ride with my eyes closed, no interest in the leaderboard or if some stranger was giving me a high five and I ended that class on one of those endorphin highs I had always read about but in my 45 years had never ever experienced. I didn’t want to get off the bike, I stuck around for a 10-minute arm class and then a 10-minute cooldown.
The next day I was excited to get back on. Was that a fluke? I did another class with Jenn Sherman again in the late afternoon. Again I started off not vibing with the music and ending with a total high. I sweat so much my towel could be wrung out and I felt AMAZING. Not sore, not exhausted, but like I was a freaking badass. That happy high lasted the rest of the day.
I did a 30-minute ride the next late morning with a friend, a different instructor known for really peppy motivating chatter with pop music. I could not get into the zone, and needed that leaderboard to keep myself driven and motivated. Afterward, I felt tired and that night my neck felt a bit achy, like I did the whole ride with my shoulders up near my ears. I skipped the next day, I didn’t feel inspired to get on the bike, but I was inspired to treat these Peloton rides like a science experiment.
I learned that 45-minute rides, especially with arms, are my favorite. The music for me matters less than the instructor. I like Jenn Sherman and Denis Morton the best, though love to throw in an occasional Kendall Toole. I have yet to experience every instructor so this list may change in a month’s time.
I learned that I am good at weights and strength in the morning, but I do better riding at the end of the day. Somewhere between 4-6pm is my sweet spot. I get all zen with it, I occasionally cry or swear, often confuse my family by grunting, “Okay, yep, on it” or “I can't, okay yes I can!” or “Are you kidding me?” to the screen. I feel I am letting out all the stress and frustration and fast paced-ness of the day on that bike, and when I ride in the evening I don’t find myself hunching my shoulders or slouching like I catch myself doing in the morning.
I learned that the competitive aspect of Peloton may appeal to some like my husband, but for me I catch myself focusing too much on output and not on form or cadence just to beat some complete stranger. Each time I find myself doing that I send that person a high-five in thanks for motivating me and then close the leaderboard so I can focus instead on myself.
I learned that a hand towel plus a cotton bandana tied at the neck is perfect for me to deal with sweat during a ride. Usually, by the 15-minute mark, the bandana has become a headband to hold back flyaways and also soak up sweat. It’s funny, I am someone who has always hated how sweaty she is. Bangs, white shirts, synthetics in summer… they aren’t usually my friends, especially between May and October. But I get a bit of a high seeing how soaked that bandana is at the end of a good ride.
I learned that the less clothing I wear, the better. Thick leggings, long leggings that bunch behind the knees, tops that stick to my stomach, anything that clings to my upper back is a no-go. I often wear the unitards from the adidas x Universal Standard promotion (they're on sale) because there is no waistband and they’re so thin they don’t feel like much when I’m riding. I also like capri-length leggings with plenty of ventilation just with a sports bra. I’m in my house, it doesn’t matter what I wear or look like, and that is really freeing.
I learned that just because your BFF positively adores a certain instructor or that instructor has 500 kazillion Instagram followers and 500 Facebook groups and hashtags dedicated to them doesn’t mean they are a good fit. That being said, I find the way to stay motivated with the instructors I do like is to keep trying others. Play the field, so to speak.
This past weekend I joined a bunch of groups on Facebook focused on Peloton. The majority of the posts I just don’t care about, but I appreciate the ability to hang out on the fringes of these groups of passionate fans. It’s like me with baseball; I don’t care about the sport but I enjoy going to a game or two and getting caught up in the chants and songs and the energy of the stadium. Sometimes I get more into the energy; I have some friends now that we will text or message one another to do a ride at the same time, I sometimes get so hyped up I high-five strangers on my rides, and my husband and I can chat Peloton for a good hour, both vibing off one another’s post-ride energy. Other times, I just want to get into my solitary zone.
The other week I was on a ride and close to getting into that zone when my daughter busted open the office door, an excited look on her face. “Is it important?” I yelled at her while music was thumping in my ears from my Powerbeats. She mouthed yes. “Is it important enough for me to get off this bike?” She said no and left me. And I gave myself permission to push that to the back of my mind and get back into the ride. I went to her after and yes it was exciting, but no it was not important. But what was important was me putting myself first. A ride is usually less than an hour, that is not a major amount of time, especially with all of us in the house together 24/7. It’s enough time to stop worrying about everyone else and giving permission to worry about me, myself, and I only.
I suck at meditating, I hate baths, and lately, I don’t often have the focus to read. We all need some way to decompress, to have “me time.” Right now life is scary and overwhelming and stressful and sad, it’s needed more than ever. I kept saying I was doing this, I’d write about ways I was caring for myself, how I was doing “the oxygen mask” of caring for myself so I could care for others. But those 45-minute rides when I give it my all, they’re the only times I’ve felt in a long while where I am truly doing that.
A Peloton isn’t the answer for everyone, just as I wrote raves about weight training and it wasn’t right for everyone. But we all need some way to let off steam, make ourselves the focus in a healthy manner, to get into a zone, and feel proud. It can be art, it can be music, it can be yoga, and it can change over time. For me right now, it’s the Peloton and I totally get the hype.